Actress Lena Dunham: ‘I Haven’t Had an Abortion, But Wish I Had’

Actress and producer Lena Dunham is setting yet another precedent for abortion-obsessed Hollywood: wishing for the opportunity to have had an abortion.

On Thursday, Dunham released the latest episode of her Women of the Hour podcast titled “Choice.” Dunham called her audio show a “safe space” for her audience to think about issues like abortion. Abortion as she saw it, that is.

“I’m a pro-choice woman,” Dunham admitted from the beginning. She credited her mother for her stance: “From an early age, she taught my younger sibling and me to say ‘anti-choice’ instead of ‘pro-life’ because she wanted to make sure that we knew that everyone is pro-life. Some people are anti-choice.”

But in her abortion campaign, Dunham not only saw herself combating “anti-choice” citizens, but also fighting a general “cultural stigma."

“Something I’ve thought about a lot is the fact that there is stigma around abortion,” she complained. “We all know that there’s cultural stigma, it’s hard to put an abortion on network TV.”

As a show writer and producer of HBO’s Girls, Dunham sure has done a poor job of watching TV. Just last year, ABC’s Scandal showed an abortion scene to the tune of “Silent Night,” and this year, shows like Jane the VirginCrazy Ex-Girlfriend and You’re the Worst also highlighted abortion. Even Gilmore Girls is teasing abortion plotlines yet to come.

But as far as stigma, Dunham saw herself as a part of the problem.

“I always thought that I myself didn’t stigmatize abortion. I’m a – uh abortion rights activist, it’s a huge part of who I am,” she prefaced. She then told the story of how she once tried to distance herself from abortion:

But one day, when I was visiting a Planned Parenthood in Texas a few years ago, a young girl walked up to me and asked me if I’d like to be a part of her project in which women share their stories of abortions. I sort of jumped. ‘I haven’t had an abortion,’ I told her. I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women’s options, I myself had never had an abortion.

“And I realized then that even I was carrying within myself stigma around this issue,” Dunham continued. “Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman’s right to choose, felt it was important that people know I was unblemished in this department.”

In the end, her mother and her friends’ abortions persuaded her to change.

“So many people I love – my mother, my best friends – have had to have abortions for all kinds of reasons,” Dunham said. “I feel so proud of them for their bravery, for their self-knowledge, and it was a really important moment for me then to realize I had internalized some of what society was throwing at us and I had to put it in the garbage.”

To do that, Dunham concluded: “Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.”

This isn’t the first time Lena Duham has advertised abortion. Her HBO show has showcased characters casually mentioning abortion (“I can’t go for a run because I had an abortion”). And, outside of Girls, Dunham loves inserting abortion into media projects, including:

Dunham also boasts strong ties to Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider. In the past, she has plugged the abortion giant while hosting SNL and even publicized a “special partnership” with Planned Parenthood during a book tour.

Just this year, Dunham wished Planned Parenthood (“every woman’s main bitch”) a happy 100th anniversary. She also defended the organization and gushed over its president Cecile Richards following the Center for Medical Progress videos last year exposing Planned Parenthood’s harvesting of aborted baby parts. For its part, Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report heralded Dunham as its media partner.

Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder is Associate Culture Editor, the Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow at Media Research Center